A few weeks ago we published a piece entitled "Old Guard vs. New Guard: The Aurora Mayor's Race Sees A Split In Support." Since that article we've received some, let's call it constructive criticism, from supporters of various candidates. Some took aim at our placing Ryan Frazier in the new guard camp, but putting Jude Sandvall in the old guard. We didn't do that, though the points about Sandvall were well taken, as we were just remarking about the distinct difference in supporters each campaign had.
To be sure, all three candidates (Steve Hogan, Ryan Frazier, Jude Sandvall) have their own strengths and weaknesses and top notch conservative supporters. In order to give our readers a chance to get a look at each candidate, later today we will be publishing an article from each campaign, arguing to the Peak readership as to why they would make the best next Mayor of Aurora.
Defector Debbie Stafford wasn't included because, well, she is batshit crazy. Ask anyone down at the Capitol, Republican or Democrat, and if they're being honest they'll tell you she's a few nuts short of a fruitcake. In her kickoff speech she actually implored her supporters to join her in a group hug of Aurora. Apparently this campaign is a bit of a therapeutic process for her.
In requesting the articles, we added a twist to stay with the theme of our original post — we asked each campaign to send an article from their top (unpaid) supporter arguing for their candidacy. No stale talking points we told them. The campaigns were also informed their articles would be posted in the order received.
And we received some telling responses. The most illuminating fact about each campaign's response came more from whom they chose than what they said.
The first response we received was from a supporter of Ryan Frazier. It was written by Richard Lewis, who is an Aurora businessman and the 9News Leader of the Year for 2011. It came promptly and through campaign staff, fitting in line with Frazier's tactic of using a well-oiled campaign machine to take the top spot in the winner-take-all contest.
Lewis focuses strongly on Frazier's attributes as a community leader, helping found a charter school for his children and his ability to communicate and work with both business leaders and the law enforcement community to move Aurora forward. He doesn't spend any time talking about Frazier's issue positions, but rather his personal attributes and unique background that would allow him to be a successful Mayor.
As a businessman, Lewis was the only campaign supporter who is not a politician. It was a clear attempt by the Frazier campaign to keep their focus on the economy and sell their candidate as not just another politician. Having run for a few elected offices in the last couple of years, Frazier will have to work hard to overcome the image of career candidate.
The second campaign to turn in their article was the Jude Sandvall campaign. We interacted directly with Jude on the article, displaying his hands-on approach to his campaign. Originally he turned in the walk piece that Rep. David Balmer (R-Centennial) was carrying with him when going door-to-door for Sandvall. He informed us he sent that piece along to demonstrate his campaign was focused on grassroots door-to-door campaigning, having knocked on 9,716 doors as of last week.
But it broke our stale talking points rule, so we requested an article specifically written for our readership. A day later we received an article by former US Congressman Bob Schaffer. He was the only supporter to use the word conservative or point out Sandvall's limited government approach. It's a striking difference. While Schaffer isn't an Aurora resident, which is notable, he is a highly regarded leader among conservatives. It fits right in with Sandvall's campaign approach of winning over the conservative vote through dogged determination and an appeal to conservative governance.
Last up was an article on Steve Hogan's candidacy. Written by state Senator Nancy Spence (R-Centennial), it focuses on a competancy, cooperation and experience angle. Senator Spence is a long time community leader who is beloved across the ideological spectrum and she emphasizes Hogan's ability to reach across the partisan divide and garner support from Democrats as well as Republicans.
For Spence, Hogan's years on the city council and his detailed One Aurora governance plan is what makes him the ideal Mayor. It's clear Hogan's campaign is not going after the Tea Party vote, but instead trying to appeal to voters' desire to elect someone with a long and positive relationship with the city. It's not so much an ideological appeal, but one based on putting trust in someone who has been working on issues important to Aurora for many years.
In a nonpartisan race, Hogan is going for the nonpartisan middle. That may be enough to win the plurality of votes, and in a winner-take-all race that could be an effective strategy.
What the three articles tell us about each campaign comes more from the supporter they chose to make the case than the message itself. Between a business leader, a conservative darling and a long time community leader, each campaign put forward a very different face to represent them.
In this case, the medium is the message.